Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of neuro-developmental disabilities common in childhood characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication skills, and patterns of activities. Background: The symptoms of ASDs typically are present before age 3 years and often are accompanied by abnormalities in cognitive functioning, learning, attention, and sensory processing. A formal diagnosis is generally not made until the age of five. The vast majority of cases of autism are idiopathic, the best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors, namely multiple genetic components and certain environmental and socio-economic factors. Timing of exposure during the child's development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder. Objectives: To estimate the effect of certain socio-economic and other risk factors on the prevalence of autism in Qatar. Methods: The target population for this study are children diagnosed with autism attending the Shafallah Center for children with special needs. Clinical evaluation is conducted by a developmental psychologist, and/or pediatrician, it includes a medical, developmental, and behavioral history; a standard physical and neurological examination, In addition, the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-G (ADOS-G) will be administered. Results: Preliminary analysis of 171 subjects showed the highest prevalence among age group 7-14 years (61%). Male/female ratio was 82%/18%, which is around 5/1. Other factors like consanguinity, education, and family income found to have an effect on the prevalence of the disease in Qatar. Conclusions: Obtaining a reliable estimate is important in planning for providing the best health care and educational services needed to improve the overall outcome of autism in Qatar.


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